Laying the Foundation: The Zagars’ Lives in South Philadelphia

Event Details

Event Date

Event Date: Friday, May 19, 2023 -through Sunday, July 16, 2023

Event Time

Event Time: All day

Event Description

Pay-As-You-Wish Opening Reception: Friday, May 19, 2023; 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Tour & Talk with Isaiah & Julia Zagar and Executive Director Emily Smith: Tuesday, May 23, 2023; 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
On view: May 19 – July 16, 2023

“Laying the Foundation” invites the viewer to go behind the scenes of Isaiah Zagar’s five fully-mosaicked sites in South Philadelphia. The sprawling public art environment at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is Isaiah’s most well-known work, but Isaiah and his wife Julia have been transforming properties into total works of art for nearly six decades.

Discover the histories of these buildings where the Zagars lived, worked, made art, and built their family since 1968. Explore how they created these spaces through never-before-seen archival material, including original photographs, historic documents, and artworks that show each site’s development. The exhibition highlights Julia’s folk art store the Eye’s Gallery, the Zagar’s current home, Isaiah’s current studio, a former rental property, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.

Isaiah Zagar is an award-winning mosaic mural artist who created more than 200 public walls in Philadelphia and around the world. Julia Zagar is a community leader and has been the owner of the Eyes Gallery for 55 years. Together, the Zagars have been living, working, and creating art since they were married in 1963. The three years that they spent as Peace Corps volunteers in Peru shaped their love of folk art and collaboration with artists that still guides their lives to this day. Both their artwork and business practices are heavily influenced by their travels and the personal connections they have made with international folk, art environment, and visionary artists.